Movie Review - The Godfather
Power of 'The Godfather' grows with re-issue

The Godfather BY MARGARET A. McGURK
The Cincinnati Enquirer

There's nothing like a quarter century's perspective to clear away the haze of fashion. Time filters out the forgettable; only the superior stands up to age.

Few films have stood -- and grown in stature -- like The Godfather.

Francis Ford Coppola's translation of the Mario Puzo best seller was a sensation when it was new in 1972, becoming the first movie to make $1 million a day at the box office. With its two sequels, it has earned almost $1 billion worldwide.

The Godfather
****

(R; violence, language)
Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, John Cazale, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall, Talia Shire.
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
178 minutes.
National Amusements.
The film's 25th anniversary re-issue with crisp new prints and remastered sound has inspired a slew of tributes. More importantly, The Godfather is winning a new generation of fans who are seeing it properly -- in a theater on a big screen -- for the first time.

The saga of the Corleone family is, superficially, a gangster movie. But under Mr. Coppola's passionate guidance, it achieves the tragic emotion and dramatic sweep of grand opera.

The story recounts the drive by an aged Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) to hand over to his sons the wealth and power acquired through a life of crime, without passing along the stigma of the hoodlum. He wants the family -- especially his youngest son Michael (Al Pacino) -- to leave the underworld behind and find its place in the world of legitimate business and politics.

But redemption is an illusion. The violent heritage of Don Corleone's life haunts Michael, bringing destruction and betrayal. In the end, Michael has preserved his father's empire but he loses his family and his soul.

Mr. Coppola's striking visual interpretation -- Don Corleone playing with his grandson in the garden, the ambush of Sonny Corleone (James Caan) in a car at a tollbooth, a baptism intercut with a wave of assassinations -- assured the film an indelible spot in the nation's collective memory.

Mr. Coppola also evoked inspired performances from virtually every cast member; it's possible to argue that neither Mr. Brando, Mr. Pacino, Robert Duvall nor Diane Keaton has ever done better work than in The Godfather.

The re-issued version is opening only at Showcase Cinemas Western Hills, which is fitted with the chain's most up-to-date sound and projection equipment.

If you care for film at all, do yourself the great favor of getting out to that theater and immersing yourself in a genuine American classic.

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